Friday, 17 July 2015

Latest on Book Marketing from #RNAConf15, Part II




I recently returned from the Romantic Novelists' Association's ("RNA") Conference at Queen Mary University of London. If you missed Part I of this marketing post, which covers Hazel Gaynor's talk on promotion, you can find it here: 'Latest on Book Marketing from #RNAConf15, Part I'.

And my neetswriter blog post covers the talks on writing by Julie Cohen, Emma Darwin and Charlotte Betts: 'Going to a Writers' Conference as Two People'. This post will cover the talks by Alison Baverstock and Kate Harrison.

Alison Baverstock on 'What All Authors Now Need to Know About Marketing': Highlights

I've wanted to hear Alison Baverstock speak for years, as I live near Kingston University in Surrey, where she's a co-founder of the M.A. in publishing, and a senior lecturer in publishing studies. A few writing friends have enrolled on the creative writing M.A and M.F.A degree courses at Kingston University over the years, which has an excellent reputation for the teaching, and for opportunities to meet industry professionals.

Back in 2006, I bought Alison's 'Marketing Your Book: An Author's Guide', when the world of publishing was very different from what it is now. At the conference, I bought, 'How to Market Books', and Alison signed it for me.


Alison began her talk by running through various definitions of marketing. My favourite was:

"Selling goods which don't come back, to people who do"

Alison talked about the importance of relationships and special sales.

Special sales:

My notes on special sales aren't great, so I looked up the definition in Alison's book:

"These are titles sold outside normal trade channels, often at particularly high discounts of more than 60 per cent......Opportunity: We have got used to seeing books in supermarkets, but where else might your customer be willing to spend?.....' A more detailed explanation can be found in Alison's book.

Growing culture of anti-reading: 

Alison highlighted that authors have to compete with other products. Book buyers are ageing, books are cheap, budgets for promotion are low. 
Case studies from five years ago show that the standard price of books hasn't changed, and that there is more discount now.

Case study: 1990 vs 2015

The first edition of Alison's 'Marketing Books' was launched in 1990. She said that in 2015 she partly paid for the launch, she was more involved with the cover; and that now there is social media.

Key things to avoid, Three Don'ts:
  • Don't take away the need to buy the book
  • Don't annoy your market by being too present
  • Don't attract attention rather than approval
Twitter Is...
  • becoming more visual
  • a way to drive traffic to your blog (Me: I find it's the biggest source, followed by Facebook)
  • where Alison gets book recommendations (me too)
A member of the audience asked: 'How do you get more followers on Twitter?' 

This was discussed a little, and my blog post 'My Beginner's Guide to Twitter for Writers' might be helpful.

Another audience member asked: 'How do I reach the readership on Twitter?' 

Alison suggested using hashtags such as #Olympics on Twitter; and said she uses #desertislanddiscs and #thearchers. This is a way to engage with an audience beyond your followers.
And, how clever is this!
In Part I of this post, I mentioned that Hazel Gaynor used the #ChelseaFlowerShow to promote her book 'A Memory of Violets' (there's an example of the tweet with the post).

If you'd like to find out more, here's the Amazon link to: 'How to Market Books', by Alison Baverstock.

Kate Harrison on 'ReaderVision - using big publisher techniques to find and understand readers': Highlights

Kate Harrison is an author who has also published a series of 5:2 diet books. I heard Kate speak in 2010 at the RNA Conference in Greenwich on 'managing your writing career', and I remember her saying 'Keep receipts!' (even if you're not published yet). Since then, I've kept receipts for printer ink, paper, writing courses and events in a folder, as you never know when you'll be able to use them for expenses.

I have Kate's first 5:2 Diet Book on my Kindle, and I found this lovely 'Life of a Writer' YouTube video, which tells you all about Kate:



And here's an interview with Kate on the RNA blog

During her talk, Kate included a great deal of valuable information, which focused on:

Reader Insight, the BIG new thing in publishing. 

Kate asked: 

"What is insight?"

‘A deep understanding of something or someone’ 

Consumer insight = curiosity and a quest to understand what makes consumers (i.e. readers) tick 

Publishers want to find a way to reach readers and engage them, but are competing with screen time, as well as the world of books:
  • What makes readers love or hate a genre or author?
  • When do readers read? Does their behaviour change depending on time/place/mood?
  • Are technology and other behavioural changes affecting how and what people read?
  • How can we get them to read and buy our books?
Numbers can be important, but they explain what, not why:
  • Sales Figures
  • Rankings and numbers of reviews (more than 50 on Amazon makes a difference, and a ranking of 3.5 plus is ideal)
  • Twitter followers and Facebook Page Likes
  • Google Analytics
Kate said you can unmask the reader by using https://yougov.co.uk/# Here you can search for the books, films, and TV programmes that have similarities to what you write:
  • Use the data to help with marketing, social media etc.
  • Writers are closer to readers than publishers and in a better position to understand them through interactions.
  • Tap into social trends: women's fiction, movies, dramas. For example in 2002, Friends Reunited and School Reunions were popular. Currently, tea and cake is popular. The death of a trend can be exaggerated, and trends can last longer than expected. Chick Lit and cupcakes are two examples.
  • "Collect" social trends by using Google Alerts. Stay alert for media coverage relevant to your area.
Other things you can do:
  • Build an email list (Me: this is recommended a lot on social media blogs)
  • Sign up to newsletters in your specialism eg. travel, music, technology
  • Use what you see and experience, does it have a role in your work?
  • Mine your own hobbies and experiences
  • Listen to local radio phone-ins
  • Set up a focus group or an online discussion group, eg. Kate has several closed groups on Facebook, including '5:2 Challenge page!'
You can sign up for Kate's newsletter here:


Kate's website has useful information for writers, including advice on writing and agents.

That's my final post on #RNAConf15, phew! What a fabulous conference, and such informative talks, both from a writing and marketing perspective. Thank you to Jenny Barden, Jan Jones and Elaine Everest for the fantastic programme and organisation.

And now I'm off for a cup of coffee with my new RNA mug. This is what I said on Twitter, what do you think? 
A few extras:

Do check the hashtag #RNAConf15 on Twitter and Facebook for all the lovely blog posts and photos from the conference.

My other posts on #RNAConf15:

From a writer's point of view, covering talks by Julie Cohen, Emma Darwin and Charlotte Betts:

Going to a Writers' Conference as Two People

From a marketing point of view, covering talk by Hazel Gaynor on promotion:

Latest on Book Marketing from #RNAConf15, Part I 

Posts on social media (on this blog, there are many more, from special guests too):

My Beginner's Guide to Twitter for Writers
What Can Twitter Lists Do for You?
3 Ways to Retweet on Twitter
Is it Worth Paying to Promote a Facebook Page?
7 Reasons for Unpublished Writers to Join Twitter

I'm a Freelance Social Media Manager, and my clients are in the world of books. Plus I'm Social Media Manager for the Historical Novel Society and Publicity Officer for the next conference, #HNSOxford16. I'm running another social media course for writers on 3 October in Guildford.

The course will be interactive with a big screen; there will be lots of tips on Twitter, Facebook, and blogging, and a sit-down lunch is included. Email me at anitajchapman at gmail dot com for further info. 

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